The imagery is vivid, the tone of the stories is the perfect match for a cup of hot chocolate on a lazy fall afternoon, and the characters are so real, and so enjoyable, that it is hard to put the book down, even though it's a collection of stories rather than a novel.
Her insight about the human condition is spot on, as well. So many of her characters find comfort in the flaws and disappointments of others, and while that is horrible to think about, it is so often true.
I also really appreciate the emphasis on big relationships and "small bursts" of pleasant interactions as both being critical to a meaningful life. The big, lifelong relationships are important, but bring their own baggage and dangers and limits. The smaller, random joys of meaningful but short-lived connections are also important, as with fleeting acquaintances or even a kind companion on a long plane ride.
I look forward to reading Stout's other works.